The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has ordered the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Funmilayo Atilade to re-assign to another judge, the trial of Frank Amah, implicated in a N66, 960,000.00 (Sixty-Six Million, Nine Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira) property scam.
Amah was originally arraigned before Justice Morenike Obadina of the Lagos High Court in 2007 on a six count charge bordering on conspiracy to obtain money from one Mr. Donatus Duru by false pretence. He was discharged and acquitted on all the counts by the court.
However, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, appealed the ruling at the Court of Appeal. In a judgment delivered recently, the appellate court affirmed the decision of Justice Obadina in counts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the charges preferred against Amah but held that Amah had a case to answer in counts 5 and 6 and remitted the case to the Chief Judge of Lagos State for re-assignment to another judge for trial.
Amah was embroiled in a property scam with Duru, initially to the tune of N190, 000,000.00(One Hundred and Ninety Million Naira only). In a letter written by Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, to the EFCC, in 2005 on behalf of Duru, Amah allegedly sold a Federal Government Property, at No.7, Bell Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos to Duru in the sum of N190 million.
In the transactions, Amah allegedly informed Duru that the original allottee of the property was one Abubakar Mallam, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs who had authorized him to dispose the property on his behalf.
Duru alleged that Amah instructed him to make payment of the N190million through Zenith Bank drafts as follows: i) Chyfrank Nigeria Limited: N102, 400,000.00 (One Hundred and Two Million, Four Hundred Thousand Naira only); ii) Implementation Committee on Federal Government Landed Property: N7, 300,000.00 (Seven Million, Three Hundred Thousand Naira only); and iii) Implementation Committee on Federal Government Landed Property: N80, 300,000.00 (Eighty Million, Three Hundred Thousand Naira only).
In spite of all these payments, the Federal Government reportedly cancelled all the allotments and sale made by the Committee and directed that the money collected from buyers be returned.
Duru said that, based on this development, Government refunded the money he paid to the implementation Committee but out of the N102, 400,000.00 paid into Amah’s company (Chyfrank Nigeria Limited), only N34, 440,000.00(Thirty- Four Million, Four Hundred and Forty Thousand Naira only) was returned to him by Amah, leaving a balance of N66, 960,000.00(Sixty-Six Million, Nine Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira only), which is the basis of litigation against Amah.
Count 5 of the charges for which Amah will now face fresh trial reads: “Frank Amah and Chyfrank Nigeria Plc, on or about the 10th day of March, 2005, at Ikoyi, Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division of the Lagos State High Court, did fraudulently steal and converted to your own use the sum of N86, 900,000.00(Eighty- Six Million, Nine Hundred Thousand Naira) property of Mr. Donatus Duru, which he entrusted to you for purchase of House No. 7, Bell Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos”.
Count 6 reads: “Frank Amah and Chyfrank Nigeria Plc, on or about 10th March, 2005, at Ikoyi, Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division, of the Lagos State High Court, did fraudulently steal and converted to your own use the sum of N7, 900,000 property of Mr. Donatus Duru, which he entrusted to you for purchase of House No. 7, Bell Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos.”